The JJs List Blog

What NOT to Talk About in the Workplace

Posted by on January 8, 2015 - 3 Comments


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The New Year is underway, and Erin Kelly, resident on-line Job Coach, says that now is a good time to review your social communication and social thinking practices in the workplace. There are some topics that should be off limits whether you have a disability or not. Take a look:


Even if it’s an election year, it’s best to avoid talking about who you voted for or who you support in the workplace. Politics can stir intense conversation and debates that are not appropriate for the workplace.


There are a lot of different religions with many different beliefs. Religion is a personal subject and, like politics, can start conversations that can lead to arguments and a divided, uncomfortable workplace.


Do not talk about colleagues behind their backs. Their personal life is their business and their business only.  Gossip at work often turns into rumors, and rumors create toxic workplaces. If someone is gossiping while at work, politely excuse yourself, walk away or remain silent. Remember, if you do not have anything nice to say at work, then it’s best to keep quiet.


Your salary is personal. Which means your co-workers salary is personal. Talking about money in front of others is inappropriate because you do not know their personal finances. If you make more or less than your co-workers, talking about salary can get awkward real fast.


This is personal information. Never comment on someone’s weight and do NOT, under any circumstances, ask if a woman is pregnant. If your coworker tells you she is pregnant, you should congratulate her, but do not comment on her size. If someone asks you to guess their age, politely decline or say you do not feel comfortable guessing.

Sex or Sexual Jokes

Making sexual jokes or comments in the workplace is a very serious offense. Sexual comments are considered sexual harassment, which can lead to your termination as well as your company and/or you being sued. Also, commenting or questioning another person’s sexual orientation is also harrassment. You may think your joke is harmless, but everyone has a different opinion of what is and is not funny.


Sure, everyone needs to take a sick day once in a while, but nobody needs to hear about your ingrown toenail or how you spent all last night throwing up the spaghetti you had for dinner. If you do have health issues, schedule a private meeting with your supervisor to discuss your current situation.


Finally, comments about race are forbidden in the workplace. Even if you are making a joke about race or a racial stereotype, it can be considered a hate crime or harassment and you could lose your job. There is no place for racism in the workplace, let alone in this world.

Have a great year at work and keep in touch with your job coach!

About the Author:

erin face

Erin Kelly is an Employment Specialist at Search, Inc. and one of our on-line job coaches.  Erin helps people with disabilities find and keep jobs. If there is something you’d like Erin to address in a future blog, let her know at


Dan Geiger says:
Jan 09, 2015

Good job on the blog, Erin. I think of all of those, the one that annoys me most is gossip.

Jake says:
Jan 29, 2015

This is a great post Erin. I have another one. I’ve often heard that during a job interview, talking about a bad experience at one’s previous place of employment is not a good idea.

victor bradley says:
Jun 25, 2015

yeah, gossip is bad. If you have a problem you should talk to someone directly, not be a coward and whine behind their backs. I can tell you from experience how ridiculous that behavior is.

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